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                                                                                             OCTOBER 2016
                         The Virginia 
Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.

Run, walk 500 
miles  for Martin Luther
            Among the many Reformation anniversary events planned next year is the 500 Years of Reformation, 500 mile Challenge by New River Valley Lutherans. They are challenged to commit to walk, run, bike or swim 500 miles between Oct. 31, 2016 and Oct. 31, 2017!
            "Commemorate the Reformation by getting healthy and learning more about the Reformation," is the challenge from Pastor John Wertz of St. Michael, Blacksburg. Those who complete the 500 will receive milestone prizes, weekly Luther quotes and encouragement and monthly Reformation history updates.  
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
ELCA Bishop's column
Fall gatherings to feature transition report
Growley is Lutheran Ambassador at Virginia Tech
Many hands worked in the Synod
Volunteers complete long list of work
Leadership, finances are retreat theme
Ministerium leaders to talk about vision
Music schedules in Lynchburg, Newport News
A boost for Shendoah seniors
Spectrum events offered
Three candidates approved
Women work on outreach

Lutherans in the news
            Dave Wirth has been named to the new post of gifts in action coordinator at   Grace and Glory, Palmyra . The post is designed to help the congregation increase  its effectiveness in utilizing the talents and abilities of members and to match their gifts with opportunities for service, said Pastor Ken Albright . Wirth, a regional board member of Lutheran Men in Mission, is expected to organize a database of spiritual gifts inventories.
            Mycah McNett has started in the position of communication and ministry specialist at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg. She will be working in branding, print, online, social media and web-based possibilities for communication and outreach within the congregation.
            Two Virginia Tech students, Casey Parrett and Alec Alderman, will be leading youth ministry at St. Michael, Blacksburg. They are members of the Lutheran Campus Ministry Group and long-time participants in Synod youth events. Lynn Price of St. Michael was named to the Blacksburg High School Sports Hall of Fame. She has been a state champion in outdoor track and cross country.
            Following action by the ELCA Assembly, associates in ministry (AIMs) are now designated as deacons.  New deacons in the Synod are Daniel Hannemann, director of music at Grace, Winchester; Ina Berkey, retired, Williamsburg; Linus Ellis, retired, Richmond; Florence Jowers, organist at Christ, Staunton. and   Lavelva Stevens,
music director, Holy Trinity, Wytheville. Also new to the deacon listing are former diaconal ministers: Mindy Reynolds, of the Synod staff; Charles Smith, Newport News ; Christy Huffman, Virginia Beach, and Shanna Vanderwel, Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg.  Jennie Myers, Bedford, and Mary Gunderson, Christ, Roanoke, are deaconesses.
            Pastor Terrie Sternberg and several members of Trinity, Pulaski, have been planning a Go Pulaski County day of service on Oct. 1 "to show our unity and to show others the love of God." They expected to work at schools, parks, apartments and a library. Also, a memorial garden was dedicated at Trinity on Sept. 4.
            The youth of St. Paul's, Hampton,  plan a skating event at Hampton Roads Iceplex on Oct. 23. At St. Mark, Yorktown, funding for the Ecuadorian children's ministry has drawn support from a Catholic congregation and Advent St. Nicholas Lutheran Church in Quito, Ecuador.
            In Fredericksburg, religious leaders from many faiths joined Rappahannock Rotary for a Gathering of Peace to recognize the International Day of Peace on Sept. 20. Flowers were added to a giant bouquet and the group sang, prayed and meditated for peace and unity.
            The Hunger/Poverty Action Group of Trinity Ecumenical Parish, Smith Mountain Lake, heard a talk on ministry for the poor by Pastor Susan Hughes of Redwood United Methodist Church, Rocky Mount. At Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, Shawnee Farmer, executive director of the Interfaith Outreach Association, talked about "Walk A Mile in My Shoes: A Look at Poverty in Lynchburg."
            Epiphany Freebirds are a group at Epiphany, Richmond, whose nest has been emptied for a while or has always been empty.They planned a trip to a polo game in Charlottesville. 
            Hebron, Madison, oldest congregation in the Synod, has ceramic magnets, coffee mugs and Christmas ornaments for sale. They have illustrations of the old church.             

Big look at the Small Catechism  
     by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton
Bishop Eaton 
            Several years ago my husband's bishop tried initiating a diocese-wide call to the catechumenate to engage those preparing for confirmation in a period of study and formation. We call it confirmation class or catechism, something generations of Lutherans have gone through. But this was a new experience for the Episcopalians in his diocese. He set about developing a curriculum for prospective confirmands, only to encounter resistance. How do Lutherans get participation in multiyear catechetical instruction? I told him: "Five hundred years of hazing."
           We do have a history of communicating the faith from generation to generation. Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism after the Saxon Visitation of the late 1520s, which examined the religious practices in the parishes of that part of Central Europe. He discovered a stunning lack of understanding of the basics of the Christian faith among laypeople and pastors. So in the Small Catechism he gives a concise but rich explanation of the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' Creed, the commandments, baptism, communion, the Office of the Keys and confession.
            The Small Catechism became an important part of faith formation in families. Millions of us throughout the centuries and world have studied and memorized it. Catechism has been a rite of passage in the Lutheran movement. It could be argued that no other experience is more universally Lutheran than studying this little book-not language, not hymnody, not cuisine, not worship style. "What does this mean?" and "This is most certainly true" are two of the most recognizable phrases in Lutheranism.
            It's been said, "Youth is wasted on the young." I'm not suggesting that studying the catechism isn't beneficial to middle school students. But confining catechetical instruction to that age group and expecting fully formed disciples at the end of the process is probably a little unrealistic.
            All of this has me wondering how we can bring our Lutheran traditions, unashamedly and gratefully, into our relationships with ecumenical and interreligious partners. The ELCA is fully committed to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. We have six full communion partners: the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church and the Moravian Church. As the ELCA, we also claim the evangelical part of our name. Set free by the grace of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus and moved by the Spirit we want to tell everybody the good news.
           Some argue that emphasizing our Lutheran identity is an impediment to dialogue and evangelism. I would argue that if we aren't clear about who we are and what we believe it's not possible to have deep and authentic encounters with others. It's hard to have meaningful give-and-take with mush.
           There was a time in the 1980s when church growth experts urged us to shed denominational identity in favor of more generic, and so appealing, names for congregations. St. Paul Lutheran Church became the Church at Pheasant Run. It's like selling our inheritance for a mess of marketing pottage. Of course we are baptized into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Of course our identity is in Christ and not in a 16th-century Augustinian monk. But there is something distinctive about our Lutheran voice that needs to be heard in ecumenical and interreligious conversations and in the public square. If we aren't clear about this we run the risk of sliding into relativism.
            It might be time for all of us to dust off our Small Catechisms(or find it in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 1160) and take another look at the basics of the faith. Staff at the Lutheran Center in Chicago will be doing just that this fall. My guess is that places like Microsoft or McDonald's take great care in immersing their people into their corporate culture. We are Lutheran Christians. With great humility we can be unapologetic about being Lutheran. It would be wonderful if we as the ELCA prepared for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 by studying the Small Catechism together. We have a common language with which to talk about faith, engage Scripture and make sense of our world. Catechism is not just for the young. This is most certainly true.
This is a reprint from the July 2014 column of the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her email address: Reprinted with permission from Living Lutheran.
Fall gatherings to feature transition report  
            A schedule is almost completed for fall gatherings on Sunday afternoons of the 11 Synod conferences, featuring talks by members of the Transition Team on the process for electing a bishop at the 2017 Synod Assembly.
            The schedule:
            Central Valley, Sunday, Sept. 25, at Reformation, New Market, Pastor Jim Baseler speaking
            Page, Sunday, 3 p.m., Oct. 2, St. Luke, Stanley, Pastor Nick Eichelberger
            Germanna, Oct. 5, (place to be determined) Pastor Sandy Wisco  
Tidewater, Sunday, Oct. 9, 3 p.m., First, Norfolk, Pastor Cathy Mims
            Richmond, Sunday, Oct. 16, 3 p.m., St. Luke, Richmond, Pastor Eric Moehring
            Northern Valley, Sunday, Oct. 23, 6:30 p.m., Bethel, Winchester, Pastor Martha Sims
            Peninsula, Sunday, Oct. 23, 3 p.m., Reformation, Newport News, Pastor Joel Neubauer
            Southern, Sunday, Oct. 23, 3 p.m., Brandon Oaks, Pastor Ken Lane
            Highlands, Sunday, Oct. 30, 4 p.m., St. Paul, Rural Retreat, Pastor Jonathan Hamman        
            New River, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2:30 p.m., Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, Pastor Bill King
            Southern Valley, Sunday, Nov. 13, Grace, Waynesboro, Pastor Joann Bunn
Growley is Lutheran Ambassador at Virginia Tech  
Growley II
           Growley II, a Lutheran dog from Botetourt County, is the new ambassador for the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. He was billed as an instant success in the Virginia Tech-Boston College football game.
Originally named Tank, the 3-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever came from the  Troutville Kennel of Sybille and Mark Nelson, members of St. Philip, Roanoke. In his short life, Growley/Tank served as a St. Francis Service Dog at the Bland Correctional Farm and then was trained as a registered Pet therapy dog, serving with Witnessing Paws Ministry and the Pet Pals program at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital  He also visited children at the Minnick School. His new name comes from a custom of calling breakfast "growley."
            Soon after he arrived in Blacksburg, Growley was promoted to brigadier general, becoming the highest ranking cadet, receiving salutes from first-year cadets. Zack Sever, a Tech senior and Growley's handler,  said he hopes the dog will become a symbol for the Corps that will connect cadets and others for generations to come. "He brightens up people's days."
            Virginia Tech President Tim Sands told The Roanoke Times, "I look forward to welcoming Tank to campus as yet another symbol that links us to our long and proud heritage of service." People who see him on campus stop for pats.
            Legend holds that a Corps commandant had a dog named Growley in the 1930s when food was scarce and cadets shared their breakfasts with him. Junior and senior handlers are in line to succeed Sever after he graduates.

Many hands worked in the Synod
            Synod volunteers worked on dozens of projects from picking apples to spreading mulch to tying quilts to assembling bone marrow transplant quilts during the annual ELCA God's Work, Our Hands program in September. Many opportunities were available to put hands and hearts and feet to work for the Lord.
Volunteers at Grace and Glory, Palmyra,
installed a ramp.
          At Grace and Glory, Palmyra, Ed Phillips had a surplus wheelchair access ramp and June Leonardo was homebound with mobility problems so a congregation team installed the ramp. Leonardo, touched by the act of kindness, said, "What is great is that now I can sit out and get some sun and the main thing is I can get to the store and to the doctors."
            Members of Epiphany, Richmond, registered bone marrow donors, assembled  kits for Virginia Commonwealth University bone marrow transplant patients and made banners for the medical staff at VCU's bone marrow transplant program, supporting the national Be the Match operation. Jeff Lanham, a member of Epiphany, is recovering after receiving a transplant in January.
            Youth members of Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, picked apples at a Bedford orchard to be given to the hungry through food pantries.
            At Our Saviour, Richmond, workers boxed and delivered produce to FeeedMore, packed toiletry kits for Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, pulled weeds at Rockwood Park and tied quilts for Lutheran World Relief. Members of Christ the King, Richmond, had an "epic Food Pantry Fight Showdown" between Sunday worshipers at the early service and those at 11 o'clock to see who could bring the most items for the St. Matthias Food Pantry.
            Several congregations worked on a variety of projects at Minnick Schools throughout the state. At Redeemer, Bristol, volunteers planned painting, trimming and landscaping and organization of supplies at the new Minnick School there. Workers at St. Philip, Roanoke, spread mulch at a Minnick School. First responders---police and firemen---were recognized at a luncheon at St. Mark's, Roanoke.
Volunteers complete long list of work   
            Volunteers in the Bread Tag Club accomplished so much in one fall weekend at Caroline Furnace, according to Reuben Todd, camp executive director. They pride themselves on leaving better than they found it, he said. "Boy, did they!"
            Here is Todd's list of work accomplishments:
The lake at Caroline Furnace
            Applying an aluminum roof at Marston; cleaning up and burning brush encroaching on the field; removing a few threatening trees; TLC for some paths leading to the  Perfect Place; installing new cabinetry in the Farmhouse kitchen; installing a new walkway and drainage for the office; completing a drainage project at the director's house; clearing trails all over the property; putting a fresh coat of paint on the laundry room at the sukkah village; clearing rock, sand and mud from the cabin road; installing three new signs at the office entrance, intersection and camp entrance; cleaning and sprucing up bathrooms in the Farmhouse basement; beginning work on the pipe at Passage Creek supplying water to the lake and completing many critical maintenance issues all over the camp.
            Volunteers willing to work on improving Caroline Furnace should contact Todd at A list of camp needs is maintained throughout the year. A spring work weekend is scheduled for April 7-9, 2017.
Leadership, finances are retreat theme   
           Seven pastors are expected to attend an annual First Call Theological Education Retreat at Massanetta Springs on Nov. 26-16.   Dr. Carol Schweitzer of the Union Theological Seminary , Richmond, will speak on healthy leadership of congregations and Pastor Paul Aebischer of Mt. Tabor Lutheran, Columbia, S. C., will talk about individual financial health.
Ministerium leaders to talk about vision   
            Rostered leaders of the Synod will head for Virginia Beach for the annual Gathering of the Ministerium Oct. 17-19, meeting under the theme, "Reformed and Reforming: Past Faithfulness---Future Vision."
            They will hear "thoughts" from two ecumenical bishops and "reflections" from four ELCA bishops on such topics as the significance of the Reformation for the church today, gifts of Luther and the Lutheran Church for today, the denominational office of the bishop, gifts and graces valued in a bishop, Luther and the Lutheran church: the gifts you value, the role of a synodical bishop and future Episcopal leadership for the Virginia Synod.
            The speakers will be Virginia Bishop Jim Mauney, Bishop Richard H. Graham of the Metro Washington Synod, Bishop Matthew L. Riegel of the West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod, Bishop Suzanne Darcy Dillahunt of Southern Ohio Synod, all Lutherans; Bishop Charlene Kammerer of the United Methodist Virginia Conference and Bishop Ted Gulick, assistant bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Gulick was Bible study leader for Power in the Spirit in July.
            Also, Charles Downs, Synod vice president, and members of the synod transition team will report on preparations for election of a Virginia Synod Bishop next year.  
Music schedules in Lynchburg, Newport News
            Fine arts series schedules have been announced for Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, and Reformation, Newport News.
            Highlights of the Lynchburg series will be a recital by J.William Greene, the congregation's organist, on Oct. 9; an organ recital by Jonathan Hehn, Tampa, Fla., Nov. 6; Celtic Christmas concert, Dec. 16; Bach Cantata, Dec. 18; Epiphany concert, Holy  Trinity choir, Jan. 6; Harpsichord recital, J. William Greene, March 5; Piano and voice recital, Patrick Hawkins and Britnee Simone,April 2, and Zephyrus vocal ensemble, May 21. Information is at or
            At Newport News, the Mildred McDaniel Concert Series wil offer these features:
Invencia Piano Duo, Audrey Kasparov and Oksana Lutsyshyn, Sept. 18; The Wren Masters, early music performers, Oct, 16; Marcolivia,  violin and violin/duo, Nov. 13; Virginia Handbell Consort, Dec. 10, Norfolk State University Choir, Jan. 22; Latin Ballet of Virginia, Feb. 12; Dei Fionn Sykes, soprano, March 5; Jae Sinnett Trio, jazz, April 30, and Tidewater Concert Band, May 20.  Information is at  or
A boost for Shenandoah seniors   
            Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries is starting a Good Shepherd program to provide 45 bags of  non-perishable items for seniors through three congregations. St. Paul's, Jerome, Emanuel in Woodstock and Reformation, New Market, will be the pilot sites for the pilot program, starting in October. The bags will be delivered by the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging.
            Each congregation will fill 15 bags of such items as paper products, cleaning supplies and toiletry items, helping to offset the cost of rent, medications and daily living expenses. Many seniors are reportedly living at poverty level or on a fixed income of less than $1,000 a month.
            The bags to be provided every two months will contain toilet paper, paper towels, facial tissue, sandwich bags, disposable wipes, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, denture adhesive, lip balm, toothbrushes, soap, deodorant and disposable razors.
            Quarterly deliveries will be made of cleaning supplies like disinfectant wipes, glass cleaner, dish washing detergent, dish soap, laundry pod detergent, dryer sheets, sponges, dish towels, rubber gloves, light bulbs, disinfectant spray, trash bags and toilet brushes. Such household items as pillows, sheets, blankets, lap robes and slippers will be provided as needed.
Spectrum events offered in Radford, Blacksburg  
            Across the Spectrum events at Christ, Radford, and St. Michael, Blacksburg, will be held on the second Sunday afternoon of each month, usually at 3 p.m., for people of all ability levels. This is a worship and fellowship experience offering "a variety of opportunities  to connect with God through song, video, arts and crafts," said Pastor Andrew Tucker of Christ Church. Central United Methodist, Radford, is providing a van for transportation.
           "With a number of congregants who live on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities, we believe God has been preparing our congregation to help provide this kind of event for the New River Valley," Tucker said.
Three candidates approved   
            Three recent seminary graduates were approved for ordination pending receipt of a call at an August meeting of the Synod Candidacy Committee.  
            They are Christine Roe, whose home church is St. Mark, Yorktown; Suzanne Stierwalt, Faith, Suffolk, and Joe Yucha, Christ, Richmond.
            Roe graduated from Gettysburg Seminary with a masters of divinity. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and completed an internship with the community fo All Peoples in Milwaukee. She spent 25 years working with individuals and families within social service agencies. She and her military husband, Steve, have two daughters, Stephanie and Jaymi.
            Stierwalt, a graduate of Virginia Wesleyan, earned a masters of divinityat Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria and completed Lutheran studies at Gettysburg Seminary. Her husband, Joe, is a Naval officer attached to a helicopter
Squadron in Norfolk and they have two daughters, Lainey and Jillian,
            Yucha, a graduate of Wake Forest University, received a masters of divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and is working as a teaching assistant for the ministerial leadership class at the school. He served his internship at Faith Lutheran, Glen Ellyn, Ill.
            The committee held introductory meetings with four persons who are interested in applying for candidacy.  
Women work on outreach 
            The Virginia Synodical Women's Organization (VSWO) provided 734 health
kits, 280 pairs of underwear and 694 sanipanties for its annual outreach project and
contributed a love offering of more than $2,700 at a convention at Epiphany, Richmond, in August.
            Members heard about Sole HOPE, a ministry organized to eliminate foot disease caused by chiggers in Uganda. Sole Hope, the VSWO outreach for next year, will provide shoes for the Uganda people.
            Pastor Lynn Litchfield of GraceInside described her organization's prison chaplain program. Molly Beyer told of her work with deaf children in Madagascar under the ELCA Global Mission program. Passtor Katie Pocalyko of Our Saviour, Richmond, was the chaplain.
            Information was provided about the All Lutheran Women's Retreat to be held at Fredericksburg Oct. 13-15. Pastor Bret Davis of Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, will talk about the book, Tales of Pointless People.
            Renee Bullentine of Christ the King, Richmond, was elected vice president. The 2017 VSWO convention will be held at Christ, Roanoke.




Editor:  George Kegley   
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